The best chance we have to find the darkest sky near Rochester is to head as far away from the city as possible without moving closer to another city. Sounds logical, though not easy to achieve without a good deal of planning. If you want to get to the best possible location, head away from Monroe County. Make your next day trip a night trip! We used data to determine the darkest destinations from which to observe the Universe.
Pick a location that falls in the green-to-dark-blue category, detailed in the legend above from The New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness by Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Destinations northeast of Rochester close to Lake Ontario or south of NY-20 in the Finger Lakes will offer the darkest possible options to view meteor showers, stars, planets, and the Milky Way. Specifically, though, if you head close the locations below—one for each county—you’ll be under the darkest skies possible around Rochester.
Each August you can see the Perseid Meteor Shower just looking up, though the meteors will seem to originate from a place just beneath Cassiopeia which will be east of Rochester. It’s easier to find the ‘W’ shaped constellation than Perseus, for which the shower is named. The best time to be out there is a few hours after sundown.
In addition, late summer is prime time for viewing the Milky Way! Pack a lounge chair, bug repellent, and a blanket a spend a few hours gazing into the cosmos. A red flashlight can help you see, but not ruin your night vision like white light. It takes about 20 minutes to adjust our eyes to the dark, but just a few seconds of white light can ruin that.
These photographers thrive on finding the darkest sky near Rochester!
Allegany State Park
Find the darkest sky near Rochester!
If you’d like to go these locations specifically, make sure to contact them first to determine what permissions may be required, or whether gates close…you may need to spend the night camping. State Parks often host official “Star-Gazing” nights with experts.
1. Montezuma Audubon Center (Wayne County)
The Audubon Center is located in Savannah, just north of the thruway, and its waterways are interconnected with Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.
2. Hemlock Lake Park (Livingston County)
This is where many night-sky photographers head to capture the Milky Way, looking south.